Young people's mental health has become a significant concern in today's society, especially in schools, where hundreds of students struggle with their mental wellbeing every day. The latest statistics show us that 1 in 6 young people are suffering from mental health problems. Many students suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress, this impacts on academic performance, behaviour and attendance.

As part of any whole-school approach to mental health, it is important schools are proactive in creating safe spaces where students can get help and support to identify, manage and prevent mental health problems.

That's why here at Worth-it we're excited about the increase of Wellbeing Hubs in secondary schools. These Hubs are essential to supporting student mental health in schools by providing the much-needed support, education, resources, and prevention measures that students need to promote wellbeing and protect mental health.

What are Wellbeing Hubs, and why are they essential for Secondary Schools?

Wellbeing Hubs are safe spaces that students can use to access support from trained members of staff, mental health professionals. They also provide access to essential coping strategies and practical resources related to promoting wellbeing and protecting mental health.

School Wellbeing Hubs are staffed by trained members of school staff and professionals who can help students cope with problems such as anxiety, stress, depression, and academic pressure.  These hubs aim to prevent mental health problems before they escalate and provide essential resources for students who require immediate attention to address any mental health needs.

This article answers key questions about school Wellbeing Hubs and also demonstrates the effective practice of Parkwood E-ACT in Sheffield and the work they have done to develop and embed their Wellbeing Hub that 300 students access for mental health and wellbeing support.

Hollie Hobson Wellbeing Officer and SMHL at Parkwood was a member of Wellbeing Club for 12 months, our programme that supports the development of school mental health and wellbeing. She used training and resources in Wellbeing Club to lead the school strategy for wellbeing and provide many programmes for student mental health that she runs from the Wellbeing Hub.

"I started at Parkwood, three and a half years ago, and there was no real established Wellbeing Hub, it was the idea that they wanted to create something, and the right person to get into that role was going to sort of be the leader of the Hub. "

"Over the last three and a half years, we've grown to two members of staff where we've got a school counsellor and the Wellbeing Officer."

"Our Hub is now an opportunity for students to access drop-in sessions to complete interventions, we have over seven different external projects run by charities and that we fund as a school."

"It's an opportunity for students who have a safe space, it's a place for them to regulate. And it's also a space for staff to access for their own mental health."

What Services do Wellbeing Hubs offer?

Wellbeing Hubs provide a variety of essential services for students, such as counselling, coaching, peer mentoring, wellbeing groups, workshops, healthy lifestyle programmes, art therapy, and anxiety programmes. These programs aim to reduce the risk of student mental distress and offer long-term solutions to mental health problems.

Additionally, various external partners support Wellbeing Hubs, such as local authority or NHS services, local mental health organisations, student welfare, and parent support agencies that work closely with the wellbeing team. The goal of these services is to provide all-around support to students in all aspects of their lives that promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

Parkwood E-ACT School Example

"Over the last three years, we've grown the services the Wellbeing Hub offers from just interventions to it being central to our whole school approach to mental health by providing a safe space, providing opportunities for supportive conversations and meetings with students and parents, a place where we can do mediations, a place for us to provide one-to-ones and group intervention.  The plan moving forward is to continue the development and building of the Wellbeing Hub."

How does the Wellbeing Hub Impact Students' Mental Health?  

The Wellbeing Hub significantly impacts students' mental health. Through the support services provided, students can cope with various mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems that they may not have previously brought up.

Teachers, students, and parents can have peace of mind knowing that students have a supportive place to go, and mental health professionals are on hand to guide them. Students are happier, healthier, and perform better academically because they have access to vital wellbeing resources that cater to their specific needs.

Referral and early intervention

The Wellbeing Hubs usually work on a referral basis, these vary from school to school and depend on the needs of the school and the local community the school is within. A school will develop a simple referral process that staff or teachers use to refer individuals they have concerns about.

Wellbeing concerns are picked up through early identification methods which can be as simple as knowing the child well, a wellbeing survey or assessment process or the child saying that are struggling.

It is easy for staff to know how to identify a struggling student in need of referral because of the other work the school has done around promoting a culture of mental health awareness. The school culture must make it safe for students to ask for help for mental health and that all staff are clear on referral processes and their role in student mental health problem early identification and remit of the Wellbeing Hub to provide support to address these needs.

Alternatively, students can request help if they believe may benefit from additional mental health or wellbeing support.

"In terms of students, we've got around 300 students accessing wellbeing interventions through our hub. And I remember we've only got 845 students at our school. "

Targeted Support for Student Mental Health

The goal of all early intervention is to catch and address any student mental health issues early before they escalate into more significant problems that can impact a student's overall wellbeing or academic outcomes negatively. These needs are addressed through providing a range of targeted support that meets the needs of different students.

Over the last three years the Wellbeing Hub at Parkwood E-ACT has restructured its approach to developing and providing early intervention, Hollie explains;

"I know a lot of intervention used to be about naughty kids, I don't like to refer to them as that, interventions are now for struggling students, potentially with community stuff, or potentially stuff going off at home. "

"Now we're looking at students to understand their behaviour and we changed our whole theory on it to students that might have low self-esteem, clearly have strengths somewhere but a struggling another area, or they might be quietly struggling."

"We're also using peer support to build positive role models in the year group, influential people, putting them into leadership programmes and creating that ripple of kindness, of leadership, knowing right from wrong, helping students develop that in themselves  to have good self-esteem."

Mental Health Support Teams

In addition to Wellbeing Hubs, the government has introduced Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in secondary schools. These teams consist of professionals such as therapists, nurses, and social workers who work directly with students to support their mental health needs. They provide targeted interventions for students with mild to moderate mental health problems and work closely with school Wellbeing Hubs to receive referrals and provide more early support to students struggling with mental health.

Supporting Students struggling with Mental Illness

There are many different types of mental health problems, and each individual student may require specific support. Wellbeing Hubs are also beneficial for students who struggle with long-term mental illnesses. These students need ongoing support and regular check-ins to manage their illness effectively. Wellbeing Hubs provide a safe space where these students can access support from a dedicated team of professionals trained in dealing with specific mental health conditions. The hubs may also work closely with external partners, such as CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), to ensure that these students receive the necessary support and care.

Wellbeing Hubs can also support students who are finished accessing mental support from CAMHS or MHST but need ongoing help with their mental health to help keep them engaged in learning and school.

Overall, Wellbeing Hubs are crucial in supporting mental health in secondary schools, promoting positive wellbeing, and creating a safe space for students to seek help and support when needed.

How do Wellbeing Hubs Help Support Staff and Teachers?  

Wellbeing Hubs also offer support to staff and teachers, who can become burnt out due to the demands of teaching and supporting students. Teachers can access mental health awareness training, which includes coping strategies for stress, dealing with challenging situations, and supporting students with mental health problems.

A Wellbeing Hub can also offer consultations for teachers on the best strategies to help students who are struggling with mental health issues. Through these support services, teachers feel supported and can provide the necessary support for their students professionally and effectively.

As a Wellbeing Officer, Hollie has provided training and resources to help staff members better understand their role in identifying pupil mental health needs earlier and the importance of active listening and positive relationships with pupils help address behaviour issues related to poor student wellbeing

"I don't think people always understand why we're doing what we're doing it for and I think the biggest challenge is sometimes staff can feel like you're validating that [disruptive] behaviour, when you're not, you are understanding it, you are challenging it, and then you are working towards a better goal. "

"It's that level of how much do staff need to know because they've got so much going on. And so it's about being clear, concise with the communication, you know, letting them know when interventions are going off, if tutors need to know information about that they could utilise to help build relationships."

"We need to be clear about why we are doing dropdowns, why we are doing that intervention and communicate why we're doing it, what they're [staff] getting out of it."

How do Wellbeing Hubs work with parents?

Wellbeing Hubs also work closely with parents to ensure that the support given at school is reinforced at home. Parents can receive training, workshops, and resources on how to support their children's mental health and wellbeing. This partnership between schools, students, and parents creates a holistic approach to promoting positive mental health.

Training to Develop a School Wellbeing Hub

Wellbeing Hubs in secondary schools are essential to supporting students' mental health and wellbeing. They offer services and resources that cater to students' mental health needs and provide a supportive, safe space where students can access mental health professionals without stigma or judgment. These hubs help students cope with stress, depression, and anxiety, which are prevalent among secondary school students. They also offer support and training for teachers and staff, which ensures they have the victim tools to assist students with mental health issues.

Every secondary school should have a Wellbeing Hub to ensure that students' mental wellbeing is taken care of. Our Wellbeing Club provides you with a whole library of resources, training, consultancy and support to develop school wellbeing.

There is also an extended example from case study School Parkwood E-ACT in our Wellbeing Club programme along with examples of effective practice from other schools, tools, resources, ongoing CPD and expert school wellbeing consultancy.

Find out more about developing a whole school approach to wellbeing with this free introductory webinar .

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